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Sunday, May 26th, 2024

Crank It Loud presents

Another Michael

with Tenci, Fust

Time: 8:00PM

Admission: $13

Doors: 7:00PM

A sweet night of indie rocking coming your way, with ANOTHER MICHAEL, bringing the ‘Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down’ Tour to Kings with support from TENCI.  Durham’s equally sweet FUST open it up with some country!

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Something very special happens in the moment when a listener truly connects to a song. It’s an  intangible reaction that bridges science and emotion, turning firing synapses into something cosmically beautiful. Another Michael exists for that moment: when a song transforms the setting of a long walk home, or speaks to a past experience while simultaneously making a new one, or taps into something universal by relating details so specific and personal that they could only be revealed in music. In 2023 the band released Wishes To Fulfill, the first in a pair of albums dedicated to their love of song, and now they’re back already with the experimental next chapter, Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down. Together, the dual LPs create and pay tribute to the power of transcendent musical moments.

Wishes To Fulfill and Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down are contrasting but complimentary albums: musical siblings that are undeniably different entities but still share key sonic DNA. They each offer a plethora of dynamics, feelings, and moods to soundtrack the richness of life, and form Another Michael’s finest work to date. Where Wishes To Fulfill was a lean 29-minute set of single-worthy tracks, Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down is more expansive, patiently unfolding to reveal an exploratory side that brings new hues into the band’s vibrant sound.

Helmed by lead singer/songwriter Michael Doherty and producer/bassist Nick Sebastiano–along with signature contributions of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Alenni Davis, drummer Noah Dardaris, and longtime engineer/co-producer/confidante Scoops Dardaris–Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down came to life over three years of intermittent writing and recording sessions that proved unexpectedly fruitful. The band decamped at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia, PA, as well as the same Ferndale, NY house where they made their debut LP, 2021’s New Music and Big Pop (which drew critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum, Billboard, Paste Magazine, and many more) with the intention of making one album, but creating enough material for two. “The longer we spent in the studio, the more songs Michael wrote and we fleshed out together,” explains Sebastiano. “Since we were creating music with no end-date in sight, there was a certain aura of playfulness and experimentation inherent in our sessions.”

That feeling of openness became the key to Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down. Another Michael’s core sound–ultra-catchy melodies delivered through inventive chord progressions, lush arrangements, and Doherty’s distinctive voice–is still present, but the record features new ingredients that push the music into unexpected directions. “I think the idea of a good song is always changing for me,” Doherty says. “The creative processes or personal listening experiences I’ve had are always meant to give me a deeper understanding of that.” 

The album draws on a wide range of influences, from clear cut classics like The Beatles, to contemporary luminaries like Alex G, to the unexpected, like a strong inspiration from Sesame Street. “You can tell the musicians who worked on the show were given so much freedom because the songs go to so many places,” explains Doherty. “There’s a great compilation called ‘The Count’s Countdown’ where Count plays a radio host and is just playing music from all over the show and it’s so unpredictable. All of that encouraged me to keep the songwriting as free and unpredictable as we could.”

The songs on Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down often take the knack for melody that defined Wishes To Fulfill and apply it to left turns like the hypnotic quasi-krautrock of “I’ve Come Around To That,” the sparse balladry of the title track, or the pulsating synth explorations of “The Diner’s Spoon.” The album’s world is weirder and more improvisational, like in the twisting ends of “Hub of Dreams” or the spontaneous performances of “Like I Won A Car”–but Doherty’s warm singing and conversational lyricism always keep things grounded.

The unbridled creativity filters into Doherty’s words as well, making it clear that the importance Another Michael prescribes to music truly permeates their existence. It’s the lens through which they see the world, coloring both the smallest most mundane moments as well as the biggest and most impactful. Doherty draws vignettes of everyday life and innermost emotions with equal attention to detail, often grappling with living in an increasingly chaotic and overwhelming world. “There’s motifs that point to an underlying ‘American’ theme. American cities, baseball, Disney, capitalism–and all the anxieties that go along with existing in a society that is proud of itself for what’s on the surface, and exhausted by its difficulties underneath,” explains Sebastiano.

Another Michael’s adoration for music allows for simple sonic satisfaction, but it also  taps into something deeper, something connective. “Music is a medium of communication,” says Sebastiano, “It’s not a purposeful decision to talk about music in our songs but it just inherently means so much to us. If something makes your heart sing, the audience is going to hear it.” On Wishes To Fulfill and Pick Me Up, Turn Me Upside Down, the band didn’t set out to capture the all encompassing, existential value of music, but they did contribute to it–offering more songs to the world, and with them, chances to create one of those moments.  

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A well is a stone-encircled place of depth, keeping an abundance of water for survival. “Well” is also a phrase for pause, for transition in language. Our tears can well up and bubble over. To define ourselves as “well” is the most basic term of goodness.

What’s on the other side of the well? Inside the tunnel of change, or this life, we can either feel intimidated by the darkness of uncertainty, or excited by the possibility of nourishment. Songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Jess Shoman wonders, “what the hell,” why don’t we go for the excess of love we deserve? Tenci’s album A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing becomes a gathering and collection of well-like vessels – cups, puddles, fists – to hold tight to this love and newfound joy.

A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing is Tenci’s second album, coming after their 2020 debut My Heart Is An Open Field, which introduced Jess Shoman’s music explorations to the world. Shoman admits that their first album dealt with letting go of painful life experiences, resulting in emptiness. In this recent collection of wiser years and distance from that former grief, Tenci carries an opposite feeling, a celebration of self-rejuvenation. A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing shows Shoman steering their inventive music further and wilder, spilling over with 12 fable-like songs. In a combination of milk, coins, glass, water, and light, each song forms a spell to “fill my heart back up,” Shoman says, “by reframing complex feelings by turning my head sideways and seeing them in a different way.”

From the close-knit Chicago scene, Shoman is joined by Curtis Oren on saxophone and guitar, Izzy Reidy on bass (Izzy True), and Joseph Farago on drums (Joey Nebulous). The years following My Heart is an Open Field saw the band playing shows together all over the country before regrouping in
Chicago to record A Swollen River with engineer Abby Black. While the themes of Tenci shuffle around a serious pool of thought, trying to understand life’s calamities, their live sets often feature an ample amount of goofy light-heartedness. Their playful interplay of loose drums and bass, huffing sax, and vocal waterfalls leave us warmer than before. The songs on A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing weave together like twigs to create that fire, a burning message to keep going.

The album begins with “Shapeshifter,” which Shoman says is about “piecing yourself together, shape-shifting into someone new,” and finding power in this new form. Setting the tone for the rest of the record, the brief song appears like a glimmering poem in darkness, unveiling an undeniable newness to their sound. “I’m a diamond ring / in a thick lagoon / Butterfly with clay-sewn wings,” sings Shoman. Like the transformation Shoman sings of, the track grows and morphs with stacked guitars and the harmonies of bandmates’ voices.

Tenci’s sonic evolution is further reinforced by the upbeat immediacy of “Vanishing Coin.” Shoman’s soft and trilling vocals fuel the song’s imagery as a friendship vanishes and another well appears, as a wish from a coin tossed into that well never comes to fruition. “Two Cups” continues this interplay between folk and rock genres, as a tough and sweet guitar solo converses, “I won’t wait,” fizzling towards freedom. Unlike a public fountain, a personal cup can be filled on your own terms towards abundance.

Tenci’s songs on A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing often appear simplistic at first, then split off to unruly places of boiling self recognition. On “Sour Cherries,” the band starts simple and slow, introducing the brutal fruit of love and the theme of wanting excess: “don’t you think you’ve had enough?” As Tenci gets deeper and huskier, they dip into one of the album’s most exciting and unexpected sections.

Shoman explains the idea behind “The Ball Spins” as “watching the ball spin – as in the world – but also as mundane as a ball on the ground. The world burns with so much sadness and destruction and I am witnessing it in a very desensitized way.” Living during an ongoing pandemic, dangerous nationalism, and climate change, to name a few, can feel so painful, it’s numbing. Tenci attempts to create art out of that metaphorical car on fire outside. Instead of disassociating, Shoman hopes to find commonality in communal care.

Just as the band name Tenci comes from Shoman’s grandmother Hortencia, the legacy of family is woven into the album. “Swallow Me Whole, Blue” comes from Shoman’s mother’s memory of her childhood dog, Blue, who was poisoned by the neighborhood kids: “They threw a poison bone / it cast a spell on you.” Perhaps Shoman’s longing to protect and know Blue is the same longing to protect their family’s memories. The album closes with “Memories”: in a bare folk song, their guitar, and their memories, echoed by the audio of an old family video. The voices of parents, grandparents, and children filter in and out, fuzzy against the assertion of a “crystal clear picture.” “Memories” captures the feeling of “knowing that at the end of your life, you will have your memories to fill your heart,” Shoman says.

Tenci has traveled through a spout that leads to a restorative lake, finding a new place of compositional and lyrical complexity on A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing. All of this fullness bursts forth from words and ideas jotted in Shoman’s journal. The notebook’s cover is made from a repurposed children’s book titled “Great Big Elephant.” Shoman’s own writing often feels like a nursery rhyme, a naming of animals and clowns under your bed, a recipe for understanding life, and hopefully, each other.

Bio written by Delia Rainey <3

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Fust’s first record Evil Joy was a self-described bitter domestic drama obsessed with the kitchen-sink passage of time measured by moments of leaving, returning, leaving, and returning. With Genevieve, we find a different kind of leaving: leaving behind, leaving one’s old ways, starting anew, a small life together, in “Family Country.” Thus, Genevieve: an historical name for both the saintly and the ordinary, the peasantry and the family, the community and the wife, extreme devotion and absolute forbearance. While sonically and instrumentally louder than Evil Joy, Genevieve is thematically more quiet about its pains—more settled in its ways. It is a collection of pathetic love stories written in dedication to “small life,” moving from gentle exceptions (“I can take the late hours if you’re with me”) to pitiful admissions (“I’m never going to change when I leave…”). What comes with a quiet life? The highest forms of beauty, but we also find here songs of unspeaking companions, the sublime dread of having children, the balance of humility and humiliation, playing the fool for the greater good, and… budget birthday parties. With these stories of possible growth, Genevieve can’t help but also feature tried and true examples of crisis and repression: seeking a bygone lifestyle in an old friend who hasn’t changed much over the years, pissing contests, search parties as the form of community for melancholics with no clue what they’ve lost, old flames you won’t let go and dying flames you won’t admit. Genevieve is a road movie and a local theatrical production of and by a community struggling to hold itself together, a record of too many names and too many places: Sarah Lee, John and Angel, Jimmy, Sam, Rockfort Bay, New England, California, Jackson, Silent City, Bridge Street, Fourth Avenue, and of course Genevieve. How do we keep up with everybody, how do we stay close to those we love? Can we begin to understand the most difficult thing, that the better the worse?

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